Cafe owner bites back over 1-star review


A Townsville cafe owner has been left wondering if we have lost our etiquette and manners after the toilets were left in a state and a simple request to a customer ended with a 1000-word abusive tirade and a bad review.

This is her response, via a Letter to the Editor in the Townsville Bulletin:


I OWN a cafe in Townsville and I am wondering if we have lost our etiquette and manners in regard to how we should behave in public.

Last week I noticed a customer using two stools to sit on, in a cross-legged position. I decided to tell him that I would prefer that he didn't put his feet on my furniture and his response was to tell me that he had a back issue and that was the only way he could sit.

I then said that I was sorry but we have many comfortable chairs in the cafe and maybe he should try one of those.

Women Friends Enjoyment Coffee Times Concept
Women Friends Enjoyment Coffee Times Concept

When I walked back into the dining room a minute or so later I noticed that he had moved one of the stools but was still sitting cross legged - I then said that I had already asked him not to do that, to which he responded that he would take his shoes off then.

I replied that was not an option and that I just didn't like people putting their feet on my furniture.

That afternoon I received about a 1000-word tirade about my behaviour in a personal message on my store's Facebook page. I was called an "inconsiderate moron" who "interrupted his peaceful visit to my establishment". That there was "no reason for it", I was "irrational and irrelevant" and generally the energy behind my words had sent out "negative vibes". This person then claimed in the personal message that he would not share it publicly because he didn't want to spread the "negativity" so as not to "tarnish my public image".

A couple of hours later he decided to give my cafe a one-star review on TripAdvisor and go over the same rant about me "ruining his vibe" etc.


The one-star review left on TripAdvisor.
The one-star review left on TripAdvisor.


My question to society in general is how much is a business owner, and their staff, meant to put up with without being subjected to arguments about what the customer thinks they should be allowed to do?

But mainly, what is the correct etiquette when you are outside your own home?

I have had to sweep up other people's toenails both on the floor and on my seats, and had chewing gum placed under my tables.

Or how about the tissue that they blew their nose on and left on the table!

The hill walkers, gym goers and bike riders that come in all sweaty and sit in a fabric chair. The customers that move your furniture around without asking and then leave without putting it back the way they found it.

We help move furniture for our customers to fit their groups in, not a problem at all - it's the customer that will pick up a heavy table or a lounge chair and move it into a position that stops other customers from getting around them and sometimes even hinders us from taking food to tables and then walks away and leaves it like that.

Don't get me started on the state that some people leave the toilets in!


Townsville cafe owner Ann Reid is dismayed sweaty cyclists sit on her fabric chairs.
Townsville cafe owner Ann Reid is dismayed sweaty cyclists sit on her fabric chairs.


I have seen customers at businesses on The Strand take chairs down to the beach and not bring them back up, and all without asking permission.

Every business owner tries to be as pleasant and reasonable as possible with every customer at all times and sometimes it is really hard.

When a customer is arguing with you after a simple request and you keep your voice even and stay polite and then get accused of "not being kind" and "utter stupidity".

Well, how am I supposed to say it any better? "I would prefer if you didn't put your feet on the furniture please."

You tell me if that warrants such a nasty response from the customer, because apparently it was the way I said it that upset him. Never mind how upset I was that I was made to feel like a fool for even asking him not to do it.

I don't feel I did anything wrong but I guess I'm asking if we are living in a society in which anyone can do what they want and we are not allowed to tell them that it's not acceptable.

People really need to treat business owners and their staff (and their furniture) with the respect that they would like to receive. After all, we are human as well, and we work really hard.

NB: I have many, many wonderful customers and 99 per cent of the time we are treated well, but it's that 1 per cent that treat you disrespectfully that end up ruining your day.